A live-in Filipina domestic worker walked away with a whopping $827,506 after winning a case against her former employers. The US-based Filipina worker Linda Alzate (not her real name) worked as a caretaker for two of her employers’ disabled children.
However, according to her lawyers she was paid much lower than the legal minimum wage. Therefore, a case was filed which she eventually won and got her due. The backwage compensation was reportedly among the highest verdicts for a domestic worker in the US.
“The court’s judgement is a victory for Ms. Alzate, especially in the face of a vigorous opposition that did not concede any dime of wages that was owed to her,” a press release from the law firm that represented the Filipina nanny stated.
“It was a testament to the courage of this Filipina to have pursued her claims all the way up to trial.”
Her lawyer Attorney Joe argued that she must be paid for the entire time she was on-call to care for the disabled children. Alzate was paid a flat monthly salary irrespective of number of working hours, which went from 18 to 24 hours.
Alzate, who worked for two doctors in Los Angeles received a salary of $1000 to care for the couple’s three-to-four-month-old child despite being on call for 24 hours, seven days a week. It amounts to less than $2 an hour, while the minimum legislated wage for live-in domestic workers in California is $10 a hour, according this website.
In 2005, another child was born, also with autism, yet the couple still failed to give Alzate her due.
In addition to caring for the children, Alzate was made responsible for other tasks including laundry, running errands, house cleaning and cooking for the family.
Alzate’s last salary in 2014 was $3,000 per month, despite a correctly-calculated salary for her 24/7 live-in wage computing upwards of $6,000.
It was also found that she was not allowed to take days off. She had to get the permission three to four months in advance even for a single day off.
In one instance, she did manage to get four days off for her birthday, which falls on Thanksgiving. Alzate said her male employer got angry.
It was her aunt who advised her to take legal opinion after she suspected about the salary structure.
Sayas said that wage theft and unpaid overtime wages are not unusual — because some employers take advantage of immigrant workers who are often intimidated into working long hours without proper pay.
“Going through this process is not easy, but if you know that if you have someone behind you, you will go for it,” said Alzate.
However, it is not over yet, as the couple have decided to appeal against the verdict, which Alzate and Saya’ firm are ready to fight.
The couple has since reportedly hired three people to take shifts, doing what Alzate did all by herself.
The workers are also reportedly being paid minimum wage, together amounting to what should’ve been paid to Alzate while she was working.
“The trial court’s judgement in favour of our nanny client is based on good facts and good law. Make no mistake about it,” said Sayas. “We will vigorously fight for the worker on appeal.”
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the Federal United States (US) minimum wage system, domestic workers and caregivers are covered under the minimum wage regulations.